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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
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November 6, 2023

Two recent graduates from landscape architecture program honored at national meeting

Submitted by Thom Jackson

Katherine Herrera-Lai and Ayana Belk, recent graduates from Kansas State University's landscape architecture and regional & community planning department in the College of Architecture, Planning & Design, or APDesign, have been recognized for their outstanding contributions in the field of landscape architecture at the National American Society of Landscape Architects Meeting.

Herrera-Lai, a 2023 Master of Landscape Architecture graduate, received the prestigious Honor Award in Communications for her exceptional work in the field of landscape architecture. Herrera-Lai's project is titled "Art (that) Works: Design Guidelines for Equitable Public Art." In the project statement she explains, "Combining my interests in public art, social justice, and landscape architecture, 'Art (that) Works: Design Guidelines for Equitable Public Art' into a is a one-of-a-kind, comprehensive guide for artists, designers, and creatives who aim to create and site equitable public art in public space ..." Her research was made possible with guidance and mentorship from her faculty advisor, Jessica Canfield, associate professor, and committee members Anne Beamish, professor, and Nicholas Geankoplis, associate professor. 

Belk, a 2022 Master of Landscape Architecture graduate, was presented with the Honor Award in Research, underscoring her dedication to advancing the knowledge and understanding of landscape architecture. Her project, "Equity in Landscape Architecture: Black Students' Perspectives," contains previously unavailable descriptive data on Black landscape architecture students in accredited landscape architecture programs. In the project statement, Belk explains, "Landscape architecture professional organizations share the goal of diversifying the profession (American Society of Landscape Architects 2018), but they cannot reach this goal without addressing the causes of outcome disparities within our academic programs ... There is no research exploring disparities from the perspective of the profession's most underrepresented students, Black students. The research uses counter narratives to examine cognitive diversity in Black landscape architect students, reveal problem areas in programs, and make recommendations to close the gap." Belk's faculty advisor, Stephanie Rolley, professor; La Barbara James Wigfall, associate professor and Kerry Priest, professor, provided support and guidance throughout her research endeavors.

These two graduates have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and innovation in the field of landscape architecture, earning recognition at the national level. Their achievements reflect the high standards and quality of education at K-State's APDesign, known internationally for producing skilled and visionary professionals.

The National ASLA Meeting is a prestigious event that brings together landscape architects, educators, and students from across the country. The Honor Awards presented during the event are highly competitive and represent the best in landscape architecture.

"We are immensely proud of Katherine Herrera-Lai and Ayana Belk for their remarkable achievements," said Huston Gibson, professor and department head of landscape architecture and regional & community planning. "Their success serves as example to their hard work, dedication, and the world-class education they received at APDesign, K-State."

The landscape architecture and regional & community planning department at K-State strives to prepare students for excellence in their chosen field and encourages innovation, sustainability and design excellence in the profession. These recent honors continue the legacy of the program's dedication to fostering outstanding talent.

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